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The Work of Care

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I have been conducting research on intellectual disability and care practices among families of diverse socioeconomic backgrounds in Porto Alegre, Brazil, since 2014.1 Despite the many differences in family arrangements, class, race, and sociocultural background, most of my interlocutors share a common concern: “Who will care for my child once I am no longer able to do so?” As …

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Refraction of time

On a Thursday evening, five men gather around a dinner table. [1] Their host, a scientist from Surrey, England, has left them a note telling them to begin eating at 19:00 if he is not yet back himself. And so they do. They are in the midst of speculating about their hosts’ whereabouts when the door quietly opens. Their host

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Mothers Matter: Developing the ‘Waiting Mother’

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“Waiting indicates that we are engaged in, and have expectations from, life; that we are on the lookout for what life is going to throw our way” (Hage, 2009: 1).

Waiting is an inevitable part of human existence. Whether we are waiting for the bus, waiting to heal, waiting to give birth, or waiting for the day to begin or …

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Messianic Medicine: Treating Disease in the Time that is Left

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In “The Time that Is Left”, Giorgio Agamben sketches the problem of messianic time. He writes that the messianic is “not the end of time, but the time of the end. (…) the time that is left between time and its ending” (Agamben 2002, 2). In the following article, I want to take his reflection on messianic time as a …

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On gloves, rubber and the spatio-temporal logics of global health

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On the 5th of September, 2014, the blog Konakry Express recounted a report from Mme Fatou Baldé Yansané that there are severe shortages of gloves in health facilities in Guinea. Mme Baldé Yansané writes that midwives have only one or two pair of gloves each week. As a consequence, they have to reuse gloves or merely rub their hands with …

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Ebola and emergency anthropology: The view from the “global health slot”

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Hoses spraying disinfectant, white spacesuits, and police roadblocks: these are the tangible technologies of expertise in West Africa. Amid images of ongoing efforts to contain Ebola, I find myself asking: What is the role of the medical anthropologist in a global health emergency? What expertise can we contribute? As of 1 October 2014, the World Health Organization (WHO) counts 7178 …